Work Experience: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I wrote some of the Dos and Don'ts of Work Experience based on what I have observed from working with students, talking to colleagues and the successes and failures of my own story experience so far.
Hopefully, I can save some of you time, and more than a little pain, by sharing my thoughts on the subject. You can read the full article over at the Flipped podcast.

The Good the Bad and the Uglies:

The Good

> Do check in advance of when you are planning your placement as there might be long waiting lists and you don't want to get caught out.

> When applying first find out by phone if they want to see your Portfolio/Resume and in what format – this is your first opportunity to make a good impression.

> Do call 3-5 working days after sending in your application just to follow up as it will let them know you are particularly interested and give them another opportunity to remember your name.

When you're there…

> Be conscious that the company you are working for is busy but do let them know that you are free from your current task to help them out when they need you.

> Nerd up on any company you are working with. It shows you are genuinely interested in what they do. It may even lead to an opportunity for you to use your skills e.g. If you particularly love modelling and you've maybe practised the company/show style it's not entirely unlikely you could get a chance to do some simple work for them. It just can't hurt to prepare anyway.

> Have a positive attitude – companies will love to help out their next generation of talented employees especially if they are excited to be part of the team and show a good work ethic.

The Bad

> Don't let your parents call on your behalf, especially if you are a college student, it may call your initiative and drive into question – companies will want to take on students who 'want' to be there, not those who are forced to.

> Don't think that because a company doesn't have work experience advertised that they don't do it – it might just mean that they are booked in advance but could take you at a later time.

> Don't hide away in a corner at lunchtime, you never know when you might get a chance to chat to someone about what they do in the company.

The Uglies

Unfortunately, over the years I have seen a little ugly. More than one young work experience candidate has stormed off and/or shouted at staff members because they are not getting to write scripts/direct/animate etc. It's wonderful if you feel confident in your abilities and ideas but remember you are there to gain experience and learn as much as you can. Helping the company out with odd jobs is part of it. You might even free someone up to chat with you later on in the day/week.

Working in an animation company is a team effort. Your future employers will be looking for someone who above all is pleasant to work with (as you will be spending lots of time together in the future if they employ you) and someone who can work well as part of the team apart from specific requirements of any given job.

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